Staffing an exhibition stand is a vital, but often overlooked part of a successful exhibition campaign, this from Clip…
All too often, companies spend months preparing the stand design and concept and then they let the sales team loose on the stand, with a spattering of marketing support, open the show doors and see what comes out of it at the end of the show. Like everything, the best results are achieved when there is careful planning, everyone knows their roles and they are perfectly comfortable and capable of fulfilling them.
When you’re planning the staff for an exhibition stand, take a step back and follow this four step process to ensure you get the most out of your event:
1) Understand the roles you need on your stand
Every stand is different and the way that you need visitors to flow through a stand will depend on the show objectives that you looked at when drawing up your exhibition stand brief. However, whatever your show objectives and no matter how many people you have staffing your stand, you will need to fulfil the following steps in working someone effectively through your stand.
– The meet and greet, otherwise called the ice breakers. Their role, as you would expect is to
stop visitors and engage with them, even if just for a few seconds. They need to use open questions and be as warm as they can be.
– The qualifiers. This role is to establish quickly through a few well prepared questions,
whether or not the visitor is in your target group. If not, then the visitor can be given some generic company literature or a simple and low cost branded giveaway and be politely but professionally moved off the stand. If the visitor is your target group then they are passed to the next role.
– The demonstrator / information giver. This role is to speak to the now qualified visitor and deliver the level of information that they require to prove your company has the capability to deliver at the level required.
– The closer. This role is to close the visitor, at whatever level is suitable for the objectives of
the show and the visitors’ requirements. On some stands this will be closing an order, on others it will be getting confirmation of a future meeting. Some stands will have different people in each of the different roles above, others will have the same people fulfilling all four roles. The important thing is to ensure that the process is followed so people are dealt with effectively and efficiently through your stand, in line with your exhibition objectives.
2) The right people for the right roles
Once you are clear on the different roles of staff on the stand, you can now see that your sales people aren’t always the best people to fulfil each role. They may well be the best people for the closer role, but they are often the wrong people to have in some of the other roles. You should consider all of your company staff when looking at who is best for each role. Your receptionist may not usually go to an exhibition but they may be the best for the meet and greet role. The qualifier role may be best suited to your business development or marketing team. The best demonstrator may actually be someone from a more technical role in the company. It will vary for each company but make sure you know the roles clearly and then adopt the horses for courses approach.
3) Prepare, prepare, prepare
One of the biggest mistakes made by exhibitions is that people are asked to staff an exhibition stand but they’re not brought up to speed on the thinking behind the event. They don’t need to know every detail of the management thinking but they need to know the background. What are the company objectives from attending the show? Why has the stand been designed as it has? What are their individual roles while on the stand? In addition to making them aware of the expectations of them, arm them with as much information as possible to give them best chance to have a successful show. Get your team to the show the afternoon before it starts so you can see your competitors’ stands and know what product / service they are pushing and get a feel for their stand voice. This will help immeasurably when talking to visitors to your stand as you can guarantee they will see your competitors at the show as well.
4) House rules
You will never walk a show without seeing a stand unstaffed, staff eating their lunch, talking to each other in a huddle or checking their phones. It happens all the time and it makes the staff look like they simply don’t want to be there. Hardly the attitude potential clients are looking for in a future partner. It’s very much basics, but draw up your own rules, that you are all comfortable with and buy into. Make everyone aware of the rules and appoint a stand manager each day to be in charge of the team. An exhibition stand should be you showing your company off at the very highest level. Don’t let your standards slip.
A lot of this may be basics but if you do all of the above, then you will be in the top 10% of efficient stand staff at any show in the World and you will get great results.